A “peaceful and just solution” to the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict can only be achieved through the creation of two states living side-by-side in peace and security, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said, asserting that there is no plan B. In his address to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which was established by UN General Assembly in 1975, Guterres said on Friday that “based on relevant UN resolutions, long-held principles, previous agreements, and international law”, Jerusalem should be the capital of both states.
“Unfortunately, over this past year, the situation has not moved in that direction”, he rued, pointing to protests that began along the border fence with Gaza last year that left hundreds dead and thousands wounded by Israeli security forces. He also cited “security incidents and provocations by Hamas and other militants in Gaza”, including the launching of rockets and incendiary kites that dangerously escalated the situation.
“Thanks to the UN and Egyptian mediation efforts, a major escalation was avoided”, he said, appealing to Hamas authorities in Gaza to “prevent provocations”. The UN chief said under International Humanitarian Law Israel too has a responsibility to exercise “maximum restraint”, except as a last resort. Guterres said he regretted Israel’s decision not to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, saying “I hope an agreement can be found by the parties to preserve this long-standing and valuable arrangement”.